Practice the Pause

Jesus' Contemplative Practice, New Brain Science, and What It Means to Be Fully Human

Practice the Pause

Jesus' Contemplative Practice, New Brain Science, and What It Means to Be Fully Human

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These days, many of us live in a state of overreactive fight-or-flight response and chronic stress. The demands of modern life pull us in all directions and can often put the meaningful connections in our lives at risk--connections to our deepest selves, to others, and even to God.

But there is good news. New developments in brain science have recently proven that an intentional practice of pausing for a few minutes of meditation, prayer, or other contemplative practice actually rewires our brain in ways that make us calmer, less reactive, and better able to see the bigger picture.

In Practice the Pause, spiritual director and writer Caroline Oakes offers easy-to-understand explanations of how this new brain science is confirming what every spiritual tradition has been telling us for millennia: by practicing the pause, we become more self-aware and better able to understand others. We become more "God aware."

With a refreshing focus on the Eastern Christian understanding of Jesus as a master of wisdom, Oakes shines a spotlight on Jesus's own centering pause practice as a transformative path for personal and social change. We learn that even a seven-second pause practice can move us beyond the fight-or-flight responses of our ego in our daily lives and actually equip us to cultivate the common good in the world.

Dive deeper with the Practice the Pause study guide--perfect for group or individual study and reflection.


 "What if a seven-second pause could transform your life? Caroline Oakes' warm-hearted Practice the Pauseexplores this question as a radically inclusive path for us all. Bringing together the wisdom of Jesus' ancient contemplative practice with the exciting, concrete discoveries of neuroscience, plus the sagest voices from all traditions, she takes us on an interspiritual journey to awaken--and keep awake--the spark of the divine within."

Carmen Acevedo Butcher, PhD, translator of Brother Lawrence's Practice of the Presence and of Cloud of Unknowing

"I've been thinking that there needs to be a book that connects the dots between contemplative Christianity and neuroscience; I've also thought that we need a good book on Jesus's own spiritual practice. Caroline Oakes has written an excellent book that fills both of these needs. Practice the Pause is the type of book that you'll go back to again and again--and you'll recommend it to all your friends."

Carl McColman, author of Eternal Heart and The Big Book of Christian Mysticism

"Practice the Pause is a WAKE UP call to see how Jesus' own practice, science, and being human indeed do dance together, and it is a call to STAY AWAKE to the ongoing intentional unfolding of my spiritual journey."

Fr Carl J. Arico, founding member of Contemplative Outreach, author of Taste of Silence

"Caroline Oakes artfully weaves together the depth, breadth, and wholeness of the contemplative journey around the unifying theme of the transformative power of the pause. Her remarkable achievement is that this weaving is accomplished in a straightforward and accessible form in which she gently leads the reader into both a brain-centered and a heart-centered understanding of the connection between even the simplest spiritual practices and our ability to transform our lives and the lives of others through contemplation in action. As an added gift, Ms. Oakes links the reader to the vast array of literary and biblical resources from which she abundantly draws."

William Redfield, Episcopal priest and founder of Wisdom's Work

"Viewing Jesus as a practitioner of contemplative prayer, Caroline Oakes takes readers on journeys through the bible which reveal the depth of Jesus' prayer life and its intimate connection with activist ministry. This re-framing, along with practical helps and explorations of contemplative neuroscience which show the healing efficacy of prayer, make for a great read for spiritual seekers and Christians who long for a fresh take on their faith tradition."

The Rev. Jonathan Linman, Ph.D., Pastor of Faith Lutheran Church, Phoenix, AR, and former director of General Theological Seminary's Center for Christian Spirituality

"Practice the Pause provides a timely overview of Jesus' spirituality in the context of his first-century Judaism. The author guides readers from this foundation through the evolution of contemporary contemplative practices within modern Judaism and Christianity. The final chapters provide readers with practical advice, using Thomas Keating's unique insights from neuroscience on the transformative practice of centering prayer and meditation on the Bible. Caroline Oakes' summary of Fr. Thomas' work, based on his writing, is the most substantive and accessible to readers I have ever seen. An excellent resource for group study and reflection."

David G. R. Keller, Ed.D., Director of Thomas Keating's Contemplative Ministry Project and author of Lord, Teach Us To Pray: One Hundred Daily Reflections on Jesus' Life of Prayer

"A rich and desperately-needed Wisdom primer Practice the Pause artfully bridges the gaps between neuroscience, contemplation, and contemporary Christianity to present anew the life, message, and prayer practice of our Master Teacher Jesus."

Jane Savage Woods, Women's Wisdom Guide, Circle Facilitator, and Spiritual Companion at Waking House

"It's well known that meditation practices light up a brain scan and are proven to promote health and well-being. But how? Oakes focuses on the transformative moment in the millisecond pause between the fear stimulus and our ingrained fight-or-flight response. Then she shows us how to practice that pause, over and over, until a third neural path opens and our mind gradually expands in the Mind of Christ."

David R. Anderson, author of Breakfast Epiphanies and Losing Your Faith, Finding Your Soul

"In the tradition of wisdom teachers, Oakes leads us on a rich spiritual pilgrimage out of our Western paradigm and into the East, where Jesus spent time in contemplation and prayer. Oakes explores the practices at the heart of Jesus' mission of 'metanoia' - true transformation - to be fully alive and explores these practices' extraordinary positive neurological impact. For anyone who seeks the intersection of science and faith and a new way of being, Practice the Pause is for you."

Malika Cox, OnBeing Social Healing Fellow; Author or the Flourish OKC Restorative Justice Learning Curriculum; MA Practical Theology, MPhil Conflict Resolution & Reconciliation

"This remarkable book, the fruit of years of dedicated research and spiritual practice, draws upon Hebrew and Christian scripture as well as contemporary neuroscience to provide grounded and innovative guidance for ways of contemplative prayer."

Anne Silver, Director of General Theological Seminary's Center for Christian Spirituality

"Oakes weaves together ancient insight with modern neuroscience to give a complete picture of who and what we can all become by embodying the active, contemplative way of Jesus."

Keith Kristich, founder of the Closer Than Breath contemplative community

"Through Practice the Pause, Caroline Oakes offers us a much-needed bridge--a bridge between Western and Eastern Christianity, and between contemplative spirituality and contemporary neuroscience. It is a bridge whose time has come. May it lead to greater unity, presence, compassion, and transformation in our world and in all of us."

Christianne Squires, founder of the Light House community for contemplative women

"In Practice the Pause, Caroline Oakes adds a significant volume to the growing library of books reclaiming the ancient Christian Wisdom tradition. Jesus is revealed as a master wisdom teacher by the writers of the synoptic Gospels. Through realizing the mutual indwelling of the Divine within each of us and the intentional practice of contemplative presence, the followers of this contemplative way discover how to live from a deeper place revealed in the teaching and life of Jesus. The study guide makes Practice the Pause an ideal choice for spiritual journey groups of all sorts."

Winston Charles, Director of the Clergy Spiritual Life and Leadership Program at the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation

Product Info

  • Publisher Broadleaf Books
  • Format Paperback
  • ISBN 9781506483078
  • eBook ISBN 9781506483092
  • Dimensions 5.5 x 8.5
  • Pages 310
  • Publication Date January 24, 2023